Surgical Success: How “Prehab” Exercise Affected My Recovery

Studies show that a contributor to successful rehabilitation is prehabilitation or prehab, an exercise program started prior to surgery. Formerly affiliated with orthopedic operations such as knee and hip replacements, prehab has become more mainstream in the treatment of cancer patients, as early research reveals that becoming fit prior to cancer surgery may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and progression, improve the effectiveness of treatment, reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and improve energy, self-image, confidence, and quality of life.

Continue reading “Surgical Success: How “Prehab” Exercise Affected My Recovery”

Excessive Exercise May Hurt the Heart

February is American Heart Month, and as heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, it’s not only a good time to raise awareness about heart health, but to address how excessive exercise affects this essential organ.

Studies show that when it comes to exercise there is a “sweet spot,” and that high levels of intense exercise may be damaging to the cardiovascular system. Makes sense, as when we add stress to our hearts we raise the risk for skyrocketing blood pressure and atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to heart failure or stroke. Research reveals that most at risk are white men who exercise at high intensity, and that prolonged high intensity exercise may increase the risk of death from a heart attack or stroke in those who already suffer from heart disease. In addition, data suggests that those who consistently train for and compete in endurance events, such as marathons and long distance bicycle races, are at risk to experience heart-related consequences.

But don’t toss the treadmill just yet. High intensity and extreme exercise are loosely defined as several hours of vigorous exercise almost every day, which describes elite and/or endurance athletes. The U.S. national guidelines for exercise call for 150 minutes a week — roughly 20 minutes per day — of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, hiking and golfing, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activities, such as running, biking, swimming and strenuous sports.

Let’s face it: An active lifestyle can lead to a healthy life, so omitting exercise is not a wise decision. Inactivity increases our risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and more. In fact, a new study claims that bypassing exercise and maintaining a sedentary lifestyle may be more harmful to your health than smoking. Exercise not only offers improved physical health, but significant mental and emotional advantages as well, including enhancing mood and self-esteem, boosting energy and alleviating depression.

If you are worried about your blood pressure spiking to an unhealthy level, it may be advantageous to check it before and after exercise, with a goal of keeping the systolic (top) number below 190. And if you are an endurance athlete, mention your regimen to your physician and perhaps you can schedule routine checks of your heart and vitals. As with most aspects of a healthy and fulfilling life, balance is key.

References:

  • https://globalnews.ca/news/3810972/too-much-high-intensity-exercise-can-be-bad-for-your- heart-study-says/
  • https://www.livescience.com/53964-extreme-exercise-linked-to-atrial-brillation.html
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538475/

Colonoscopy Screening Saves Another Life

Make An Appointment Colonoscopy

Make An Appointment Colonoscopy

For me, January is a time to organize, to donate household items that my family has outgrown, and to schedule health-related screenings​,​ most notably my colonoscopy.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States

Yes, I am aware that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but I am relaying this information early because, with the exception of skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that some 140,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year, but the good news is, colorectal cancer, if found early, is one of the most preventable and treatable cancers.

Affecting both men and women of all races and ethnicities, colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum and typically develops as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that, if not removed, may become cancerous. While the cancer is found mostly in those 50 years old and above, the incidence in those younger than age 50 is on the rise. So, the American Cancer Society recently changed their screening recommendations for average-risk adults to begin at age 45.

How to reduce your risks of colorectal cancer

The best way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is by screening for the disease via a colonoscopy, an outpatient procedure which examines the full colon and allows a physician to identify and remove polyps during the process. There are several additional screening options, including at-home tests that can detect blood in the stool, but they are not definitive in identifying polyps, which are usually the precursor for this cancer.

Warning signs of precancerous polyps and colorectal cancers

There are no clear-cut symptoms associated with precancerous polyps and colorectal cancers, which is why screening is of the utmost importance, but warning signs might include blood in or on the stool, a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, persistent stomach pain, gas or cramps, unexplained weight loss, nausea and/or vomiting. However, many who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer never experience any symptoms.

I realize that people avoid colonoscopies because they are inconvenient, considered invasive, may disrupt the microbiome or merely due to procrastination, but the bottom line is this: Your risk of adverse events from a colonoscopy is lower than your risk of colorectal cancer, and many who receive the diagnosis have little or no risk factors.

Kick off the new year with an early colorectal screening

So, why am I suggesting kicking off the new year with an early colorectal screening? Because this procedure saved my life. At the age of 50, when I had my first colonoscopy, I was, against all odds, diagnosed with colorectal cancer. My surgeon believes the cancer began when I was in my mid 40s, and if I had put off the test for just a couple of years, my cancer most likely would have been inoperable. I hope you will take my experience into consideration and, please, don’t put off scheduling your colonoscopy another week, month or year. The time is now to be proactive and take the lead in anticipating a healthy 2019!

References: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21457

Hope for Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and currently affects more than 5 million Americans and 30 million people worldwide.

Whether it’s an aging parent, a spouse, a coworker, a sibling or a friend, it seems we all know someone who has experienced cognitive decline. And it makes sense, as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and currently affects more than 5 million Americans and 30 million people worldwide. This devastating disease, along with its precursors, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and subjective cognitive impairment (SCI), have become the most significant healthcare problems both nationally and globally.

Evidence that shows the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease may be partially reversed

Fortunately, progress is being made. Dr. Dale Bredesen, a neurologist who has spent more than 30 years researching Alzheimer’s disease, has created training on its treatment and prevention, known as the Bredesen ReCODE (Reversal of Cognitive Decline) Protocol. Treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have been largely ineffective thus far because they fail to slow disease progression, but through Dr. Bredesen’s teachings we are seeing evidence that shows the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease may be partially reversed, even in advanced cases, and have returned many patients to their pre-diagnosis levels of cognition.

The Bredesen ReCODE Protocol

So, what is the process? By applying key concepts of functional medicine, identifying lifestyle factors, administering tests and designing customized treatments for patients, the Bredesen ReCODE Protocol recognizes some 150 factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Specific tests are used to measure underlying factors that cause the disease, and a comprehensive plan, personalized for each patient, addresses lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep, stress management and exercise, as well as gut health, hormonal balance, environmental exposures, infectious triggers and more. The relatively simple and often low-cost solutions to treatment and prevention of aging-related mental disorders includes direction on factors such as nutrition, supplements, mental and physical exercise, stress reduction, intermittent fasting. Following this organized, multifactorial protocol, symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and early AD may often be reversed within six months after treatment. Radiologists have reported that MRI tests, which previously showed typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the brain, have returned to normal and research has shown patients returning to work, resuming driving and living as they did prior to mental decline.

Following this organized, multifactorial protocol, symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and early AD may often be reversed within six months after treatment.certified ReCODE Provider

Dr. James is a certified ReCODE Provider

Alzheimer’s is something that I am acutely passionate about, having lost my father to the disease and witnessing first hand its devastating path. And so, I am honored and excited to announce that I have completed the Bredesen training and am now a certified ReCODE Provider. As a functional medicine practitioner, studying this method of treatment is a natural next step for me, and I so look forward to sharing my knowledge with those in need and implementing what I have learned to begin the process of bringing hope to Alzheimer’s, SCI and MCI patients. Through this encouraging research and treatment, I am confident that we will continue to make great strides in reversing cognitive decline.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30283265
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27294343
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540361/
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1559827618766468

What’s Your Chronotype?

What is a chronotype? In short, it is an individual difference characteristic reflecting the time of day at which we are at our best.

What is a chronotype? In short, it is an individual difference characteristic reflecting the time of day at which we are at our best.

Fall is upon us, and along with its glorious gifts comes a change in the weather and in the light. Here in Rochester, one of the country’s cloudiest cities, with so few hours of sunshine and shorter days, we strive to move mountains before sunset. But adhering to nature’s light switch may not be advantageous for everyone, as research shows that each individual has an internal chronotype that determines when we truly shine.

What is a chronotype?

In short, it is an individual difference characteristic reflecting the time of day at which we are at our best. We all have a master clock in our brain and many subsidiary clocks ticking throughout our bodies, and not everyone’s clocks run at the same pace. Our chronotype controls our clock, or circadian rhythm, which is a series of behavioral, mental and physical changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. So if you consider yourself an “early bird” or a “night owl,” believe it or not your body is programmed for this classification, based upon your chronotype. And once you know your chronotype, you can work with your body to achieve maximum productivity.

What’s your chronotype? Take the quiz. <<

The assessment of individual chronotypes is important not only for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders and for predicting the ability to adapt to specific schedules, but also for improving daytime performance and matching sleep schedules to our biology. Extreme evening individuals are at higher risk than morning people of not obtaining sufficient sleep and of performing poorly due to the difference between their circadian rhythm and the social demands of daily schedules. There is also research to show that people have more difficulties in maintaining sleep when their sleep is scheduled at adverse circadian phases.

The good news is, knowing our chronotypes can inspire us to take preventative measures such as using ​light therapy, or exposure to bright artificial light that mimics natural outdoor light. This therapy has long been recommended for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which results in changes in mood, sleep and even eating habits during the fall and winter months, as well as other health issues such as fatigue, memory-related disorders, low energy and more. By taking the ​chronotype assessment​, we’ll know the optimal time to use light therapy according to our individual circadian rhythms and feel more energized throughout the day.

So, while we may not have a say when it comes to Mother Nature, business hours and school bells, knowledge of our chronotypes will definitely determine the ideal time of day to focus on important issues, complete daily tasks, exercise, achieve goals and, ultimately, live more fulfilling lives.


See Upcoming Classes:

October 8: THE SCIENCE BEHIND FOOD CRAVINGS

October 9: HEALTHY HIJACKS FOR TEA AND COFFEE

October 24: EXPLORE THE LINK BETWEEN NUTRITION AND SLEEP STRUGGLES

Finding Focus

help with floundering focus

help with floundering focus

As the children go back to school and parents begin to juggle work, carpools, sports and homework help, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and experience difficulty in maintaining focus. And this applies even more intensely to those dealing with such ailments as ADD, ADHD, mild cognitive impairment and decline, anxiety, past concussions and the like.

But there are ways to combat our failing focus.

A healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of sleep, regular exercise, minimal screen time, ongoing organization and reduced stress, which can be aided by meditation or listening to classical music, are just a few. In addition, focus can be supported by adhering to a diet rich in Omega 3, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin B, and other nutrients.

Below is a list of supplements that may help us manage focus and, ultimately, support good mental health. For those currently receiving treatment for a diagnosis, these may be taken in conjunction with medication. As always, please consult your physician prior to starting a regimen of supplements.

Choline

Choline​ is a vitamin-like nutrient essential for optimal brain development and it influences cognitive function in later life. Choline is produced in the liver, and the amount that the body naturally synthesizes is not sufficient to meet human needs. While we obtain some choline from our diets, many of us don’t get the amount recommended by the medical profession, which is 550 mg per day for men and 425 mg per day for women. Choline supplements should be taken in the morning to improve attention and cognitive function throughout the day.

Alpha GPC by Jarrow: 300-1200 mg per day.
Citicholine by Jarrow: 250-500 mg per day.

L-Theanine

L-Theanine​ is an amino acid found in green tea that can help with focus, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and is especially helpful for those with anxiety.

L-Theanine by Vital Nutrients: 100-200 mg, 2-3 times per day.

Bacopa

Bacopa ​is an outstanding herb used in India for the young and old that promotes mental focus and clarity, and has antidepressant and anxiolytic activity for those who experience mental fog, ADHD and learning disabilities.

Bacopa Extract by Planetary Herbals: 1-2 tablets, 2-3 times per day of whole leaf extract.

Kids Daily B Centered

Kids Daily B Centered ​provides a range of B vitamins, along with zinc, bacopa, lemon balm and L-Theanine. This is ideal not only for those suffering from ADD and difficulty focusing, but it also serves as a calming agent.

Kids Daily B Centered Nutrient Booster Powder by MegaFood: 1 scoop per day.

References:

  • L-Theanine/ Green Tea https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728665/!
  • Bacopa https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/606424/!
  • Natural Products https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4757677/

See Upcoming Classes on Memory Maintenance:

September 27: MEMORY MAINTENANCE AND MENDING

November 6: MEMORY MAINTENANCE AND MENDING

Scrutinizing Sweat: More to Explore

Whether you’re working up a lather by exercising or merely perspiring in the heat, sweating has thus far been perceived as healthful. But what do we really know about the process of perspiring? While its benefits have been touted from the Roman baths and Aboriginal sweat lodges to Scandinavian saunas and Turkish baths, there is much more to explore.

Sweat is 99% water, with the remainder made up of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and lactic acid. We sweat because our bodies include a mechanism to stay at a consistent temperature, so as sweat evaporates, the body temperature is lowered. How much we sweat is variable and depends on factors such as one’s genetics, age, weight, percent of body fat, distribution of sweat glands, the time of day and even, for women, the menstrual cycle.

We also know that sweating is unique to humans, as we are the only mammal that relies on secreting water to the surface to cool ourselves, and that it may be affected by environment: Studies by Japanese scientists in the early 1900s demonstrated that where one spends the first two years of life dictates one’s number of the sweat glands and how many will be become activated. So, keeping your children in an air conditioned environment is going to affect their ability to thermoregulate later in life (which may explain the differences in my household, as my husband spent the first few years of his life in India, while I grew up in Canada).

In addition to exercise, there are several ways to sweat, and at this point research hasn’t proven that any one method is better than another.

Bath Therapy Chart

If you’ve worked up a sweat and want to continue to sweat, wiping moisture with a clean towel will prevent a cooling effect and may help to maintain sweating. It may also help to remove any toxicants from your skin. Traditional and Finnish saunas call for cooling off in a tepid shower or experiencing any icy plunge. What’s most important is to rehydrate to replace water and electrolytes, using 1⁄2 liter of water (not from a plastic bottle, please) for every pound lost. In addition, refrain from putting chemicals on your skin, such as personal care products, and from using towels laundered with chemicals and dried with dryer sheets.

There are a multitude of facts and myths about the process of perspiring.

Is sweating a form of detoxification?

The main way we eliminate toxins is via the kidneys and through bile/stool. Research shows, however, that we can also detect a range of toxicants in sweat, but we don’t know if this is a preferential way to measure or rid of toxins. According to Dr. Donald Smith, Professor of Toxicology at UC Santa Cruz: “By forcing your body to perspire through heat exposure or heavy exercise, you can cause your kidneys to save water and actually hang on to any toxins that may be circulating in your system.” More research is needed in this area.

Does sweating burn fat and calories?

I am not convinced that sedentary sweating, or sweating without exercise, is a path to losing weight. Claims of burning calories by sitting in a sauna are exaggerated, as most, if not all, weight loss from sauna use is water weight and should be reversed by hydrating. However, sauna use may assist in weight loss via stress reduction and improved circulation.

Can sauna use help with cardiovascular, respiratory and brain health?

A number of studies demonstrate the benefits of sauna use on cardiovascular disease, but at this point we are not sure why. We do know that there is a relatable impact on vasculature post MI, congestive heart failure, and dementia/alzheimers disease. A traditional Finnish sauna shows best results when taken four to seven times per week, and this study proves prospective evidence that sauna bathing is a protective factor against the risk of SCD, fatal CHD, fatal CVD and all-cause mortality events in the general male population. We also know that frequent sauna bathing can expand the air passages, reducing the risk of chronic and acute respiratory conditions, including pneumonia. In any event, even though further studies are needed, they currently suggest that sauna bathing is a healthy habit, whether due to sweating or merely taking the time to relax.

Does sweating affect diabetes and metabolic health?

The effects seen with incorporating sauna use and hot baths are similar to those seen when we exercise, including an increase in blood levels of epinephrine, norepinephrine, interleukin 6 (IL-6), growth hormone,and HSP72 (a heat shock protein). There is also improved insulin sensitivity, and a small study showed improved blood sugars, sleep and a general sense of well-being.

Can sweating aid cancer treatments?

In certain instances, hyperthermia can be used as an adjunct cancer therapy, but at this time we cannot extrapolate the benefits of hyperthermia treatment to sauna use, as the body cannot achieve the core temperatures via a sauna or heating blankets. In supplementing cancer treatments, hyperthermia needs a higher core/tissue temperature and must be medically induced, which cannot be achieved at home.

Additional-Benefits-of-Sweating

As always, consult with your physician before preparing a program for perspiration, as there are some conditions in which sauna and heat exposure may be harmful, such as high risk pregnancy, diabetes, recent myocardial infarction and aortic stenosis. However, once given the green light, it may be beneficial to incorporate a bathing program three times per week, if your schedule allows, or head outside this spring and begin a regimen of vigorous, sweaty sessions.


 

References

Genuis SJ1, Beesoon S, Lobo RA, Birkholz D. Human elimination of phthalate compounds: blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study. Scientic World Journal. 2012;2012:615068.
Doi: 10.1100/2012/615068. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Genuis SJ1, Beesoon S, Birkholz D, Lobo RA.
Human excretion of bisphenol A: blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study.
J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:185731. doi: 10.1155/2012/185731. Epub 2011 Dec 27.

Kunutsor SK1, Laukkanen T2, Laukkanen JA3. Frequent sauna bathing may reduce the risk of pneumonia in middle-aged Caucasian men: The KIHD prospective cohort study. Respir Med. 2017 Nov;132:161-163. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2017.10.018. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

Jari A.”Laukkanen,”MD, PhD Tanjaniina”Laukkanen,”MSc1; Hassan”Khan,”MD, PhD2; Francesco”Zaccardi,”MD3; et al. Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):542-548. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187.

Chikako TOMIYAMA1, Mayumi WATANABE2, Takashi HONMA3, Akihiro INADA3, Takayoshi HAYAKAWA3, Masae RYUFUKU4, and Toru ABO5 The effect of repetitive mild hyperthermia on body temperature, the autonomic nervous system, and innate and adaptive immunity. Biomedical Research (Tokyo) 36 (2) 135-142, 2015.

Kowatzki D1, Macholdt C, Krull K, Schmidt D, Deufel T, Elsner P, Fluhr JW. Effect of regular sauna on epidermal barrier function and stratum corneum water-holding capacity in vivo in humans: a controlled study. Dermatology. 2008;217(2):173-80.
doi: 10.1159/000137283. Epub 2008 Jun 5.

Karagülle M1, Kardeş S2, Dişçi R3, Karagülle MZ2 Spa therapy adjunct to pharmacotherapy is benecial in rheumatoid arthritis: a crossover randomized controlled trial. Int J Biometeorol. 2018 Feb;62(2):195-205. doi: 10.1007/s00484-017-1441-y. Epub 2017 Sep 7.

Santos I1,2, Cantista P1,3, Vasconcelos C1,3, Amado J4. Balneotherapy and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Randomized Control Trial. Isr Med Assoc J. 2016 Aug; 18(8):474-478.

Oosterveld FG1, Rasker JJ, Floors M, Landkroon R, van Rennes B, Zwijnenberg J, van de Laar MA, Koel GJ.

Nurmikko T1, Hietaharju A. Effect of exposure to sauna heat on neuropathic and rheumatoid pain. Pain. 1992 Apr;49(1): 43-51.

Terhorst L1, Schneider MJ, Kim KH, Goozdich LM, Stilley CS. Complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of pain in bromyalgia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Sep;34(7):483-96.
doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.05.006. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Naumann J1, Grebe J2, Kaifel S2, Weinert T2, Sadaghiani C3, Huber R2. Effects of hyperthermic baths on depression, sleep and heart rate variability in patients with depressive disorder: a randomized clinical pilot trial.

The Conscious Kitchen

Nutritional Layering

Healthy cooking is an important part of my daily routine, and recently I have challenged myself to prepare dishes that include as many good-for-me components as possible, with the goal of utilizing only meaningful ingredients.  I have coined this way of cooking “Nutritional Layering.”

Nutritional Layering

Being mindful of Nutritional Layering has added an exciting element to cooking.  When I research recipes, for example, I find myself immediately editing the ingredient list to include those that pack a powerful punch of vitamins and nutrients.  For instance, I tend to make broths and stocks at home because I can add a multitude of quality nutrients by simply adding elements such as dried mushrooms, which contain immune supportive properties, Kombu, which is similar to seaweed and contains high levels of iodine and fiber, fermented miso, which contains a dense concentration of nutrients, and even a simple bay leaf, as it includes healthy compounds, folic acid and vitamins.

Add Nutrients and Complexity to Cooking

Another of my favorite dishes to prepare and enjoy is an easy Confetti Slaw, which contains cabbage, bell peppers, garlic, onions, high-quality olive oil and plenty of citrus, herbs and spices.  Not only is the slaw beautiful to behold and delicious, but the ingredients offer an abundance of phytonutrients, which are beneficial to health and are believed to help prevent various diseases.  Layer upon layer, these ingredients add necessary nutrients and complexity to cooking.

Cooking-Conscious Crops

My interest in Nutritional Layering has extended to my beloved garden as well, where my cooking-conscious crops include medicinal herbs, trees and plants that make for a lovely yard while ultimately producing a healthy, edible harvest.  Indoors, I have even enriched my water intake by adding citrus, such as lemon and orange slices, and herbs, mainly mint and tarragon, into the pitcher that is a constant in my refrigerator.

And so, the next time you’re in the kitchen, perhaps you could make the most of your meal by layering healthy, quality ingredients.  Knowing that you’re consuming the best possible components will boost your mood, help your health and, naturally, make for a superb supper.